Mental Health

Coronavirus – Don’t isolate your mental health

Coronavirus – Don’t isolate your mental health

By Coronavirus, Mental Health, News

Over the past few weeks it is safe to say that the majority of us have had to adapt to a new ‘norm’. Whether you work in production, administration, healthcare, or public services, everyone is having to adjust their way of working due to the Coronavirus, including occupational health providers.

We have received many requests from employers, regarding their employee’s mental health and fitness to work. Employers are asking what they should be doing to protect their workforce and ensure that their business survives these uncertain times, as well as offering advice to their employees of what they can do to take care of themselves at home…

Look after yourself

If you are working from home, self-isolating or furloughed, you still need to make sure that your time and workspace are manageable and comfortable. This doesn’t just stop at the comfort of your chair; it also relates to your personal wellbeing and mental health. Taking time for yourself during this pandemic is incredibly important and can help to protect your mental wellbeing.

Working from home

Although it can be tempting to sit in your comfy clothes with your laptop on your knee, it is necessary to keep some sort of routine. Where possible, try to have a dedicated ‘work area’. Set an alarm, shower, get dressed and be ready for your day as normal. It’s amazing what a difference getting dressed for work makes, even if you’re working in your spare room.

No work commutes mean that there may be time for some mediation or relaxing stretches in the morning. Check out a quick 10 minute yoga video if you can – A fantastic combination of physical and mental exercise. You have the luxury of being able to take your coffee break in the garden and indulge in that book you have never quite had time to read.

Working from home can be challenging enough trying to set boundaries and create a new norm, but being at home 24/7 can also cause severe social isolation which can be detrimental to many people, whether they have any underlying mental health issues or not. That is why it is so important to stay connected to friends, family and work colleagues as much as you can.

There are lots of positive things that can come from this pandemic and it can really make us appreciate the smaller things that life offers, but to do this, we need to be healthy both physically and mentally.

What can employers do to help?

As an employer, you have a duty of care to your workforce, but it can be difficult to control if you have employee’s working from home, furloughed and high risk / potentially infected team members. Everyone is dealing with their own levels of stress and worry, as well as businesses trying to stay afloat and keep the paddles turning.

However, there are a few easy ways in which you can support your business and employees right now:

Stay in touch – Staying in contact via a group email is enough, but why not call your employees and check in with them? Isolation can be tough on everyone, particularly if you have a mental health impairment. Just a simple phone call can be enough to lift spirits, and make your employees know you care about their wellbeing.

Signpost to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) – If you have an EAP in place, ensure that everyone knows the benefits of this system and encourage the full use of it. This could be a crucial lifeline to those in isolation.

Lean on occupational health resources – Acorn are offering a variety of services to help vulnerable employees through this testing time.

– Mental Health Support – Telephone consultations with a nurse or mental health first aider for employees that may be struggling with their mental health and require professional advice.

– COVID-19 Triage Calls – We are assisting HR to manage vulnerable and high-risk employees, providing guidance relating to social distancing, shielding and protection of others.

– Management Referrals – A 60-minute telephone assessment with a nurse to assist both employees and employers with a return to work following absence.

– Electronic Paper Screening via Orchid – Acorn are delivering all of their health surveillance via quick and easy electronic screening to guarantee that social distancing measures are met, but to also ensure employers are continually meeting their legal requirements with regards to health surveillance and not falling behind. This does not involve any movement of paper, just a quick click to send an email questionnaire to an employee.

Support from work

We have never seen our country in a ‘lockdown’ position and everyone is learning to adapt, including employers from all types of businesses.

Although there are uncertain times ahead for many industries, it is worth spending time and thinking about what is important to your company? How will you kick start again after this pandemic? Well, your employees are going to be a huge part of this, which is why they need to be supported, more so now than ever.

Guiding your workers, staying in contact and keeping them informed on changes is incredibly important. Particularly if you know someone is vulnerable or has had previous mental ill-health.

When this is all over, you want your staff to return to the workplace feeling positive and excited for the tasks ahead.

Employers have a duty of care to their employees and there is plenty that you can do to support vulnerable workers whilst away from the workplace. If you need more information regarding the services that Acorn offer, call us on 01260 277797.

Stay safe.

3 Words

3 Simple Words

By Mental Health, News

How are you? Want to talk? Can I help? Need a friend? Are you OK? I’m always here…

Sometimes it is 3 simple words, said with meaning, that can really help transform someone’s thoughts and feelings for the better. They are often said in passing, but how often do you feel a person really means what they say?

During uncertain times, it is more important than ever before to spend time connecting with those who may be struggling under the surface, whether that be friends, family, work colleagues or employees. If you are feeling vulnerable or lonely, reach out to those who care. There are many ways that you can connect.

Keep in touch digitally

  • Make plans to video chat with those you would normally see in person.
  • Arrange phone calls or send texts.
  • If you’re worried that you might run out of topics to talk about, make a plan with someone to watch a show together or have one ready to chat about once it’s finished.
  • While you can’t meet in person, you could check social media to get up to speed with what people are up to and send a message.

Connect with others in similar situations

  • If you are feeling anxious about Coronavirus or having to stay at home more than usual, you may find it helpful to talk these worries through with someone you trust, especially if they are in a similar situation. 
  • The charity ‘Mind’ runs an online peer support community called Elefriends where you can share your experiences and hear from others. This may help your confidence when speaking to others.
  • If your home feels too quiet, put the radio on! Radio is a fantastic companion to turn to when you need a friendly voice.
  • Speak to work colleagues who may have been furloughed or are working from home to see how they are coping with the change.
  • It’s not always vulnerable people that suffer with their mental health at times of distress, it can affect us all, at any time. This is why it is important to stay connected and always think about those 3 simple words, and the positive impact they may have.

Employer Support

There are many ways in which you can support an employee’s mental health during the coronavirus pandemic, that too involves communication and keeping in touch with employees.

Occupational health consistently offers support for an employee’s mental health even if they’re furloughed or working from home. Acorn have mental health first aiders who are conducting telephone calls, nurses completing video referrals and a whole team of advisors willing to point you in the right direction and offer the correct support to your employees when they need it most.

3 simple words – We support you. Lean on us. We are here. Our nurses care. Call the team.

Mental Health Awareness Week 18th – 24th May


Choose to Talk

By Mental Health, News

Cut the stigma around mental ill health

What does the term ‘mental health’ mean to you? Quite often, due to its stigma, it is linked to negative connotations – that someone is ’mad’ or to ‘avoid them, they are crazy’. Which in reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Mental disorders can be triggered by a variety of genetic and environmental factors, of which one person cannot predict will happen to them or how it will affect them mentally.

Often, when someone is going through mental ill-health, it stems from a negative influence, which could be why there is a ‘grey cloud’ over the definition ‘Mental Health’. We are getting to a point now where people are openly talking more about mental illnesses, but there is still an immense negativity hanging over the term ‘Mental Health’.

Talking about feelings can often be the beginning of what can feel like a marathon for someone who is struggling with their mental health. 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health related breakdown. The more open conversations that happen, the more myths that can be broken about mental illnesses.

As individuals, employers and human beings, we need to help end the isolation that can often come with a mental illness. Raising positive awareness of mental health issues will help managers to support colleagues and staff who are struggling at work whilst addressing the needs of the business.

It’s Time to Talk

It is important to understand that mental ill-health can effect anyone, at any time of their life. They can be linked to personal issues, work problems or relationship breakdowns. The ‘strongest’ of people can often be the ones suffering most, as a mask gets pulled down and a smile gets painted on, no one would know any different. Just asking how somebody is can really make the world of difference to someone on their darkest day. Time to Talk Day encourages individuals to do just that – talk to each other!

Time to Talk Day – 6th February 2020 has been developed and is led by the charities ‘Time to Change’, ‘Mind’ and ‘Rethink Mental Illness’. This day encourages everyone, including businesses to add to the larger conversation and address the sigma around mental health, especially in the workplace.

Games, social events, printable materials and small encouragements such as stepping away from your desks to have a coffee and a chat can be great opportunities to start up a conversation around mental health, and act as that first stepping stone which could potentially be life changing for someone.

Speak up if you’re struggling. Talking does not make someone weak. It makes them human” – Andrew Solomon, a motivational author who has suffered with anxiety and depression.

Something as simple as talking can be a great step forward for anyone who may be suffering in solitude with their mental ill-health. Time to Talk have some fantastic resources on their website such as posters, email templates, games and activities to encourage talking about all aspects of mental health in the workplace that you can find here:

Employee Assistance Programme – (EAP)

Alongside the face to face support within the workplace, there is also a professional service that can be offered to employees that is practical and confidential.

Acorn’s Employee Assistance Programme is a service that can help an individual at a time when they maybe don’t know where to turn.

The service is available 24/7 with trained service representatives at the end of every phone, ready to guide you to the best specialist support or counselling. Whether it’s a personal issue, coping with grief, workplace pressure, financial troubles, parenting challenges or a question that you just don’t know where to get the answer, the EAP system is designed to answer any questions immediately, where applicable, or refer you to the most appropriate advisor, counsellor or source of information.

This has proven a successful tool from start to finish for many companies. Having a number to call instantly when faced with troubles and being able seek guidance before a mental illness comes into the picture, an employee can speak to someone that is qualified to give accurate support.

But what is most important, it gives a person a safe place to talk to a professional. If an employee has been away from the workplace, they can use this service to help them comfortably get back into work knowing that they have the EAP system in place to support them through the process.

At Acorn Occupational Health, we like to practice what we preach and have an EAP for all of our staff as well as offering this as a service to other businesses.

We are also enthusiastically participating in Time to Talk Day 2020. Have a look on our social platforms to see what we are actively doing to cut the stigma of mental health in the workplace.

By changing how we talk about mental health issues, we can begin to impact negative mindsets and behaviours which affect so many people.

Let’s make a difference, today.